My Home Picks on Amazon, Part 2

Last month, I posted my favorite Amazon home finds and wanted to share some additional picks with ya! Seriously, Amazon Prime really pulls through with affordable, stylish pieces. I’ve also been really inspired by Alaina’s home and Danielle’s and feel like all of these pieces would work in their places, too. 😉 It’s funny how once you get a certain style in your head, you keep stumbling upon pieces that match it perfectly!

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This glass and gold vanity tray is also perfect for a coffee table or bar cart. I love the gold accents on the corners and for under $20, it can’t be beat!

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I recently purchased this gold lamp and was influenced by many of the positive reviews saying that it looks much more expensive than it is (I mean, it’s under $40!). It adds a great pop of gold to any room and is a fraction of the cost of lamps at places like West Elm.

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This pillow cover is very West Elm-esque but is only $10. It’s great for a modern living room.

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I was lucky enough to find this chair on Craigslist for just $30 (compared to $150 on Amazon!), and its stylish frame adds a fun element to my living room.

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This set of mirrored trays would look fabulous on a coffee table and again look much more expensive than they are IRL!

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Key Entertaining Essentials

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Happy Friday! I wanted to pop in with three entertaining essentials that I’ve found extremely useful over the years (from college to apartment living, they’ve been musts!):

Small bowls: When serving snacks and dips, I honestly sometimes still use colorful plastic bowls that I bought at Target the summer before my freshman year. They’re super durable and I never have to worry about them breaking. However, if you’re looking to step up your serving ware game a bit, I’m also loving these from Anthropologie.

Lots of cups: I got two sets of plastic Lilly cups in college and still have ‘em! They’re great for when you have several people over but don’t want to resort to Solo cups. Mine have held up extremely well, are super cute (of course), and are easy to wash. I recently purchased these blue Lilly cups for my bar cart, and while they’re a different style (the plastic is thicker and they’re a bit shorter), I’ve loved using them, too!

Festive cocktail napkins: One of my favorite things to look for at HomeGoods and similar stores is festive napkins (Michaels often has adorable options, too!). At only $2.99 or so a pop, packets of napkins are a great investment and make for fun party props. I’ve seen everything from donut-themed ones to sassy sayings and more. You can never have too many (says the girl with an overflowing drawer full of printed napkins!).

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BBQ in Cape Cod

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I had such an amazing, relaxing trip to Cape Cod last weekend, despite encountering flight delays on my way to and from Boston! It was the perfect mix of beach time, catching up, cooking/eating, and sleeping…yep, sleeping! My friends and I all agreed that we actually felt refreshed after the trip (I was known to take 3 hour naps each day, ha) even though we certainly did a lot during the short time we were there. We explored South Dennis, the area where we were staying, ventured out to Hyannis and Provincetown, and spent tons of time laughing and eating in the gorgeous backyard of our Airbnb or drinking sangria and playing Cards Against Humanity on the front porch.

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On Saturday night, we decided to do a big cookout in the backyard (side note: I was seriously in love with the yard–there were hydrangeas, lounge chairs, huge tables for eating dinner together, and an amazing outdoor shower). The cookout was the best decision of the whole trip! For $27 each, the six of us enjoyed all of the food pictured here PLUS two pitchers worth of sangria (one for Friday, one for Saturday) and countless leftovers–all for the price of what we likely would’ve paid for one small dinner at a restaurant!

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I was craving watermelon and made sure that it got added to the grocery list, but we served a delicious mix of foods…corn on the cob, potato salad, mac and cheese, and more. My job was to do the tablescape 😉

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What would a beach vacation be without tons of ice cream? The above cone is from Kandy Korner in Hyannis, but for the most part, Sundae School in Dennis was our go-to spot: try both the coffee Oreo and the lemon sorbet–separately, that is! The store also featured banners from various colleges (apparently where all of the workers went), so we were super excited to walk in and spot Colby, our shared alma mater!

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I’m already itching to return to the Cape sometime soon, and we all definitely want to head back next summer! We’ve decided that while we still found a pretty good Airbnb despite only booking in May, we’d like to plan ahead and nail something down in the winter, maybe in a different area in order to explore a little more. If you have any Cape recs, send ’em my way and I’ll file them away for the future!

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Window Shopping: The Nordstrom Sale

I thought this would be a fun new series to write whenever inspiration strikes. I love checking my favorite clothing and home goods websites for new arrivals, but I don’t always share things with you all unless I end up ordering them! So here comes my “window shopping” series–where I’ll feature a few of the exciting new (or new-to-me) products on my radar…maybe this will also stop me from pulling the trigger on an item right away…

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t touch on the #NSale (aka the Nordstrom sale) at all?! But in reality, I don’t think I’m going to be purchasing anything this year! I have more than enough clothing for fall and didn’t see anything I had to have. There was one raincoat that I thought was adorable, but it was sold out before the sale opened to the public (sad, but I already have a great raincoat, so it was probably a sign to say “no”). However, just because I won’t be purchasing anything (seriously, I think this is the first time I’ve EVER said this in general, let alone about a sale, haha), I can still browse to my heart’s content. So if you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket and just don’t know what to choose, hopefully the guide below will come in handy!

My shoe picks: 

Stocking up on some Tory Burch is basically a given if you’re going to shop the sale–everyone is obsessing over the riding boots! But since fall is still a ways away, it doesn’t hurt to stock up on some cute summer basics. My friend Allison was rocking the Sam Edelman sandals in Cape Cod and she said they’re actually pretty comfy!

My bag picks: 

Everyone has been loving the BP scalloped tote for the past year or so, and it’s exciting to see it on sale for half its usual price! But let’s be real, all of the bags I’ve featured on here kind of have the same look–and I think they’re all perfect options for work. I have a similar tote that I sometimes bring to the office but have also found useful for travel (sans laptop). A sturdy, solid color bag really never goes out of style!

My “other” picks: 

The great thing about the #NSale is that there’s truly a huge range of items. Also, don’t forget to scroll through the home section! I noticed a few bloggers seemed surprised by the number of home items for sale, but there’s truly been a great selection each year (trust me, that’s the section I care the most about, haha)! Last year, I snagged one of the famous Jonathan Adler zebra trays in blue and I absolutely love it. I didn’t see them this year, but I think many of my picks here are just as cute!

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Life Hacks, Part 2

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It’s been awhile since my last Life Hacks post, so I thought I’d do round two, full of tips and tricks about everything under the sun a few useful topics.

Moving in with a significant other? Here’s how you can keep the peace even if your ideas of organization are world apart.

For my NYC ladies (or other small space gals)…how to maximize your square footage.

Need just one more pair of shorts for the summer? I’m loving this scalloped, lace pair!

Looking for a good chick lit novel for vacation? I can’t wait to read All Summer Long after seeing Ashley’s review (and I also loved Bookshop on the Corner, which she highlights!).

Need an easy dinner idea? My mouth is watering over Julia’s recipe for chicken taco bowls!

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Books on My Radar

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Ok, I need to just, like, stop going on Amazon.com (ha, that’ll never, ever happen…) because every time I’m on there, I discover a dozen new books I want to read! Below are a few that have piqued my interest lately and are on my list to either buy (when prices go down) or check out from the library (if the waitlist isn’t too long!).

1) This seems to be marketed more toward college students, but I love self help type books, especially those geared directly toward young women.

2) Many people seem to have loved this one, and I’ve been stalking it on Amazon for awhile now! I’m not hugely in to politics, but who can say no to a funny book about working for Obama? If Mindy Kaling and Ashley recommend it, I’ll listen.

3) Laura Dave’s new novel about a culinary superstar who gets hacked sounds right up my alley (and seems like a totally different type of book than Eight Hundred Grapes, which I read a few years ago and enjoyed). Plus, who can resist the cheerful cover?

4) To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Sykes’ and Piazza’s other book, The Knockoff, despite it being quite popular. I stopped reading partway through a few summers ago and may have to give it another chance. In the meantime, I’ve heard good things about their new release, which seems like the perfect light read for summertime travel!

5) A fun fictional book about the life of a celebrity journalist in Hollywood is just what the doctor ordered for summer. I’d love to scoop this one up to bring on the plane to Paris–it sounds like something that’ll keep me entertained for hours!

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FRIDAY FEELS, #7

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Greetings from Boston or Cape Cod, depending on when you’re reading this! I took a 10 pm flight up to Boston last night and will be driving down to the Cape today for a college friend reunion. I couldn’t be more excited–spending time with my college girlfriends brings me SO much joy, and while our trip will be fairly short, we’ve been counting down for months and can’t wait to reunite! There are six of us coming from DC, Boston, Connecticut, New York, and Wisconsin, so we’re looking forward to some much needed catchup time (and we’re sending love to the West Coast contingent of our crew who couldn’t make the trek out!). Think lots of beach time, wine + game nights, and more. I also purchased a palm leaf swimsuit for the occasion, which you may have seen on Instagram, and can’t wait to break it out…

On my playlist: The perfect summer beach jam and one of my faves from Summer ’16.

On my nightstand: I packed a few books for the beach and am excited to dive in, but in reality I probably won’t be reading much this weekend other than on the plane. I also ordered The Light We Lost but want to wait to start reading it until I know I’ll really have time to sit down and enjoy it (so probably next weekend when I’m back!). Is anyone else like that with books? Sometimes I feel like I rush through books when I travel, and I want to be able to savor this one because I KNOW it’ll be good! I’ve heard amazing things from everyone who’s finished it (but I’m also sure that I’ll sob my eyes out…another reason why I don’t really want to bring it on this trip!).

On my mind: Oh my goodness. If you need a new show, Friends from College (which seems to be a recurring theme in this post, ha!) is SO good. I started watching it last weekend and finished it within 24 ish hours (there were only eight 30-minute episodes, but still). One of my other college friends got into it too, so we’ve been texting nonstop about all of our favorite scenes/characters. Basically, the show revolves around a (co-ed) group of college friends who are now all living in the same city as 30-somethings (#goals). However, conflict ensues as one friend tries to get pregnant, two others maintain a complex romantic relationship, and more. The show definitely made me laugh out loud several times, and anyone else who has watched TV with me will know that this is a rarity (seriously, I was once watching The Office with a date and maybe chuckled a couple of times and he was convinced something was wrong with me…or maybe I do have a problem). But this show is funny and touching (the opening credits get me every time…#sentimental) and will have you binge-watching right away! You heard it here first (and if we’re friends IRL, you’ve already heard me talk about it nonstop). I already want to watch the season again!

On my wish list: Let’s just call this the summer of wicker bags? Everyone and their mother is obsessed with them and I can’t get enough either. I’m loving this one (which is only $22 on Amazon Prime, so it’s basically a no-brainer) and actually ordered it for my Cape trip, so I guess it’s actually off my wish list now.

On the agenda: After a BUSY work week, I’m excited for my time off–relaxation is just what I need! Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

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4 Things to Do For a More Productive Week

For weeks when you just need alllll the coffee (and maybe a few donuts).

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I’m so excited to be heading out of town this evening for a little beach getaway (and I can’t wait–more on that tomorrow!), but does anyone else feel like the days leading up to a vacation are always the busiest? Somehow, it always seems like I have the most projects due right before I head out of town–which makes the vacation time all the more rewarding, sure! But the days leading up to a trip (which are already chaotic enough) become even busier when there are major deadlines to meet. Here are a few things that have already helped me this week:

1) Do some prep over the weekend. In terms of prepping for my vacation, I did tons of laundry and packed my suitcase (I’ll just have to throw in extras like my hair dryer, straightener, sneakers, and toiletries before heading to the airport). In terms of prepping for work, I spent some time on Sunday afternoon sitting down with the article I’ve been working on and gathering my thoughts and jotting down some notes about topics to discuss with my boss before our meeting on Monday morning. I find that sitting down in my own (quiet!) home to think about a big project is much more effective than trying to piece together thoughts at my desk early in the morning before a meeting.

2) Stay on top of your food situation. I placed my first ever Prime Now order on Sunday and loved it! I had a lot of trouble getting the $10 off coupon (which you can apply to your first order) to register on the site, but after a long time on the phone with Amazon customer service (which is generally pretty darn great!), I placed my order and secured a TON of nonperishable grocery items (and, of course, two cases of La Croix!) for only $25, plus everything was delivered right to my front door in just a couple of hours. Technology, what would we do without you?!

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3) Do something fun. I hate when weekends go by and I feel like I didn’t do anything social or even just relaxing. But that’s often my own fault–you can be productive and still make time to catch up with friends, after all! I had a blast catching up with girls from various parts of my life on Saturday evening. Devoting Saturday night to purely just hanging out and having fun made it that much easier to focus on getting lots of things done (laundry, other housework, work prep, etc.) all day Sunday.

4) Try something new. Sometimes I’m eager to try something, like a new workout class or even a new dinner place, but then I get home from work and end up reverting to my usual routine. On Saturday, I tried a new spin studio in DC and absolutely loved it–I’ve already gone back twice this week, although I hate to use up my pack of classes so quickly! I was glad that I trekked out to the studio fairly early and tried the class when I had a little bit more free time–I hate getting to the studio four minutes before class starts, which is something I’m definitely guilty of doing. 😉 Taking a little more time to get familiar with the studio up front will definitely pay off in the long run when I am running late and already know how to use the lockers, set up my bike, etc.

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Picking a Neighborhood

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One of the best parts of moving to a new city (or just finding a new apartment) is choosing a neighborhood. I’ve been really happy with the various places I’ve lived (New York’s Upper East Side, Philadelphia’s University City, and now, Georgetown), but of course I always experienced the “what if” feeling. What if I lived in downtown DC closer to some of my favorite restaurants and workout studios (well, then I would be farther from work). But what if I lived in Virginia and was closer to work (however, would I still be able to find that “neighborhood” feel?). You know the drill.

Several of my friends have either re-signed their leases, moved to a new spot, or are currently living at home and exploring apartment options. I thought I’d share a few of the factors that were important to me during my search, which are things I still think about fairly often.

1) Practicality. Are you close to work? If not, does that matter? If you’ve been dating someone in your city, how close do you want to live to that person? Is it really worth it to Uber pool across town several nights a week in order to see him or her, or do you appreciate having your own neck of the woods? For me, I basically live as close as possible to my office in Virginia while still living in DC, which is something that I wanted. Of course, if I lived on the other side of the river my commute would be that much easier, but I’m much, much closer to work than I would be if I lived farther east in the city. Things like proximity to a grocery store, pharmacy, and gym are important to consider. In Georgetown or Glover Park, for example, you’re not necessarily going to be near a grocery store depending on where you live. I’m not personally super close to all three of the places I listed above, but I’ve made it work. I’ve had to accept that not every city is going to be like NYC, where there are truly three pharmacies, three grocery stories, and three gyms/workout studios per block! In Philly, I didn’t necessarily fall in love with my neighborhood, but I was happy with it because of how easy it was for me to get to class, buy food, and dine out every once in awhile, so as a busy student, practicality definitely won.

2) Personality. What’s the neighborhood’s personality? How does it match your personality? Is your neighborhood a place you look forward to coming home to at the end of the day, or do you just feel blah about it? I know that while I’m personally a city girl at heart, I prefer living in a neighborhood rather than in a more city-like high rise. Walking and driving around Georgetown honestly makes me so happy, and while I’m farther away from other things, I love how gorgeous and safe it is over here. In New York, I liked living on the Upper East Side because of the similar neighborhood feel, but the experience was definitely worlds away from one of my friend’s–she lives in an amazing, 20+ floor building downtown! Do you want to live in the New York/DC that you see on TV, or are you ok being a bit more removed from all of the chaos?

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3) Price. This is probably the number one factor for most people, but it’s definitely related to the other two. Maybe living in that cute but pricier neighborhood is worth it if you can walk to work (practicality) and cut back on transportation costs–honestly, not having to splurge on that monthly subway pass in NYC would’ve been amazing! Price is so personal and can vary so much from city to city, so there’s really no one “right” way to approach it. Also keep in mind that in some neighborhoods you can get more for your money in others. I knew people in New York who chose to live in Connecticut or New Jersey because they could get a little more space for their money, but in return, they had a much longer commute.

Have more neighborhood questions? I’ve lived in three cities (and apartments) in four years, so I’ve been there!  Drop me a note or leave me a comment and I’ll chime in!

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How to Make the Most of an Apartment’s Downfalls

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Hado Photo

As much as I love my apartment, it’s far from perfect. I kind of describe it to friends as having more than enough room for one person, but not quite enough for two people. The main reason for that is because of the lack of closet space. I have two closets–one in my bedroom and one by the front door–but they aren’t the most functional. In New York and Philly, I was VERY fortunate and had a walk-in closet area both times (although in Philly the walk-in was my only closet, meaning that it also held bulky winter coats, my vacuum, and more). In DC, my bedroom closet is very deep but only has one bar that I can actually reach (and I’m a pretty tall person). While I don’t have a TON of clothes (all my money goes to home items instead! Ha), things were still getting a little crammed in there since the closet isn’t very wide, either.

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Hado Photo

After checking out the Container Store and still not feeling super inspired, I decided a few weeks ago that (while it would be a little weird), I’d switch the contents of my bedroom closet with those in my front hall closet. I realize that it may be a little strange for a guest to open up the closet door and see all of my dresses and button downs hanging up in there, but how often do I have guests over? WAY less frequently than I get dressed, which I do, you know, every day. So far, the new system is working well–especially because it’s summer and I no longer need to grab a jacket on my way to work anyway, which means no reaching into the deep closet every morning.

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Hado Photo

Does your apartment have some less than perfect features? Here are a few swaps you can try:

1) Not a fan of your radiator sticking out? My current apartment had one of these covers installed when I moved in (which is nice, because I don’t think I personally would shell out $250 for one!). It definitely makes the space a little nicer looking, and you can even keep things (like a stack of coffee table books) on top of it, if needed.

2) While I wish I had a whole closet to dedicate to cleaning supplies and things like extra toilet paper and paper towels, I’m lacking in storage space. Have a thin, standup vacuum? Slide it right under your bed our couch rather than propping it up somewhere visible. Just don’t forget where you put it when it’s time to use it!

3) Need to cover 80 percent of your flooring with carpets? This was a rule in my apartment building in NYC, and one of my downstairs neighbors made it VERY clear that she expected this to be enforced…but what better excuse to try out this layered rug look? Don’t feel like you have to sacrifice style to be a rule-abiding tenant!

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